Teaching in Second Life

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Virtual education brings down geographic barriers

Bassima Alansary came to virtual worlds in secret. Her family and culture forbid her from having an avatar, or from speaking to men even in virtual settings. She lived in Saudia Arabia, in fear of being punished for the simple desire of wanting to learn to speak English. “When I started my husband made it difficult for me to attend classes because of men,” she said. “I was locked in my house, I didn’t know how women were free to express their emotions and ideas.” Attending language classes in person was completely off limits. But Alansary — who asked not to be quoted under her real name — was able to escape her constraints, if not physically, then virtually. Margaret Derrington, a lecturer at King’s College, London, has been teaching English as a second language to groups of students located in different countries with the help of Second Life, Skype and Open Sim. She introduced Alansary to virtual reality technology. ….[READ]

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